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An MIT Dean's Defense of the Humanities

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the she-oughtta-know dept.

Education 264

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) writes "Deborah Fitzgerald, a historian of science and dean of MIT's School of the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, speaks out in a Boston Globe column about the importance of the humanities, even as STEM fields increasingly dominate public discussion surrounding higher education. '[T]he world's problems are never tidily confined to the laboratory or spreadsheet. From climate change to poverty to disease, the challenges of our age are unwaveringly human in nature and scale, and engineering and science issues are always embedded in broader human realities, from deeply felt cultural traditions to building codes to political tensions. So our students also need an in-depth understanding of human complexities — the political, cultural, and economic realities that shape our existence — as well as fluency in the powerful forms of thinking and creativity cultivated by the humanities, arts, and social sciences.' Fitzgerald goes on to quote a variety of STEM MIT graduates who have described the essential role the humanities played in their education, and she concludes with a striking juxtaposition of important skills perhaps reminscent of Robert Heinlein's famous description of an ideal human being: 'Whatever our calling, whether we are scientists, engineers, poets, public servants, or parents, we all live in a complex, and ever-changing world, and all of us deserve what's in this toolbox: critical thinking skills; knowledge of the past and other cultures; an ability to work with and interpret numbers and statistics; access to the insights of great writers and artists; a willingness to experiment, to open up to change; and the ability to navigate ambiguity.' What other essential knowledge or skills should we add to this imaginary 'toolbox'?"

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Nice Defense. (1)

stewsters (1406737) | about 4 months ago | (#46893673)

An MIT?

Re:Nice Defense. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46893767)

An MIT?

See here [apastyle.org] .

Re:Nice Defense. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46893869)

Case in point!

Re:Nice Defense. (1)

stewsters (1406737) | about 4 months ago | (#46893933)

I thought we were going to call them mit rather than EM-EYE-TEA now.

Do you pronounce SCOTUS as ESS-CEE-OH-TEE-YUH-ESS or scotus?

Re:Nice Defense. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46894117)

Do you pronounce SCOTUS as ESS-CEE-OH-TEE-YUH-ESS or scotus?

Sk-oh-tuss

Re:Nice Defense. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46894043)

MIT starts with a vowel sound ("em"), so it takes "an."

I started with a Humanities Degree (5, Interesting)

funwithBSD (245349) | about 4 months ago | (#46893715)

Then earned my IT degree later in life. Hard to eat on a Humanities degree salary.

Still, I can communicate and write better than 90% of my peers, and that gives me a major advantage over them.

Being able to communicate between people is as important as being able to enable communication between two machines.

Re:I started with a Humanities Degree (2)

sandytaru (1158959) | about 4 months ago | (#46893959)

Same route I took. English undergrad, web programming/MIS master's degree. Now I do what I really wanted to do all along with the English degree, which is write documentation (along with various other duties as an analyst, many of which require writing in some fashion as well.)

Re:I started with a Humanities Degree (4, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 4 months ago | (#46894299)

You like writing documentation?

Can we clone you?

Re:I started with a Humanities Degree (2)

Krishnoid (984597) | about 4 months ago | (#46894729)

Maybe not clone, but if you act quickly enough, you might be able to get him to a place where he can meet someone to reproduce with [writethedocs.org] .

Re:I started with a Humanities Degree (5, Funny)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 4 months ago | (#46894259)

Then earned my IT degree later in life.

As an engineering major, I took plenty of courses in humanities, and I feel that I got a very well rounded education. At least at my school, the humanities were not
neglected at all. Everyone had to take a "core" of mandatory classes in literature, and also take a required number of elective courses in history, economics, sociology, etc.

Still, I can communicate and write better than 90% of my peers

The problem with humanities majors is not that they can't communicate, but that they have nothing interesting to say.

Re:I started with a Humanities Degree (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46894579)

A combination of ego and condescension. You may have taken humanities courses, but you did not gain humanity.

Re:I started with a Humanities Degree (2)

TeknoHog (164938) | about 4 months ago | (#46894613)

The problem with humanities majors is not that they can't communicate, but that they have nothing interesting to say.

Agreed (to the extent that all generalizations are dumb). I don't think you need to learn all the extra artsy fartsy in order to master your language, though of course it helps to have some context.

I've only officially studied science/tech fields, but I've always been interested in language, and like any complex system, I like to pay attention to its details and play with it. I grew up in Finland, went to an international school mostly because of the language aspect, but ended up getting a science degree in Britain. Later I have taught math and science in both languages, and I find my attention to language invaluable. For starters, it's just embarrassing if you teacher makes obvious spelling or grammar mistakes, even if it's not a language teacher. On a deeper level, teaching is all about communication, and it always helps if you can make your message clearer and simpler (without simplifying the subject matter, of course).

I've never understood why math/science/programming geeks are stereotypically bad at spelling (or language in general). It should be about the same kind of attention to detail in both cases. You know how disastrous it can be to miss a quotation mark in a programming language, yet you don't care about "its" vs. "it's"? Of course, the latter is not disastrous in the same way, but for a lot of people such mistakes will break the flow of reading, as well as giving an impression of generally sloppy thinking.

Re:I started with a Humanities Degree (1)

sribe (304414) | about 4 months ago | (#46894903)

I've never understood why math/science/programming geeks are stereotypically bad at spelling (or language in general). It should be about the same kind of attention to detail in both cases.

Because some have this idiotic arrogance about the subject, and refuse to acknowledge the importance.

Re:I started with a Humanities Degree (5, Interesting)

Stormy Dragon (800799) | about 4 months ago | (#46894671)

Indeed. Note conversely that while most STEM majors take a lot of humanities classes, humanities majors rarely must take more than a couple of STEM classes.

Why is it that while being illiterate is generally considered shameful in our society, people have absolutely no qualms flaunting their innumeracy?

Re:I started with a Humanities Degree (3, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 4 months ago | (#46894275)

Not to mention the thousands of years of human achievement, artistic and otherwise, that's actually pretty awesome once you learn to appreciate it.

MIT, you say? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46893783)

Why should we trust a mouthpiece of an organization that murders students?

Re: MIT, you say? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46893819)

Man, _one_ guy dies, and you're all hating on them.

Re: MIT, you say? (2)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | about 4 months ago | (#46893845)

Sony releases a few semi-dangerous CDs and they're *still* angry about that. The company that released the vulnerable OS is off the hook.

Yeah, the tech crowd sure is fickle.

Re: MIT, you say? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46893929)

So it's ok if you murder just one guy?

Re:MIT, you say? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46894011)

If you're talking about Aaron Swartz, he was murdered by Aaron Swartz.
And he wasn't a student, at MIT or anywhere else.

Re:MIT, you say? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46894109)

How did suicide get promoted to murder?

Re:MIT, you say? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46894343)

Rape culture.
Thanks Obama!

Re:MIT, you say? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 4 months ago | (#46894747)

Why should we trust a mouthpiece of an organization that murders students?

Which (while I may not agree with you 100%), leads straight into the skill I was going to suggest adding: skepticism.

The ability to check whether your "knowledge of the past and other cultures" is accurate, or you're being fed FUD. The ability to tell whether the "numbers and statistics" other people hand you are correct, and not mistaken or fudged.

"... the insights of great writers and artists", but not the uncritical acceptance of same.

It is pretty difficult to have the ability "to open up to change; and the ability to navigate ambiguity" without a healthy dose of skepticism.

Re:MIT, you say? (1)

sribe (304414) | about 4 months ago | (#46894917)

Why should we trust a mouthpiece of an organization that murders students?

I certainly do not condone their complacence in that case. But Aaron Swarzt was not an MIT student. That fact often seems to get lost in the hullabaloo of indignation around here.

More "Black Studies" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46893833)

I can't think of anything more beneficial than masses of Black Studies Ph.Ds that have had their hatred honed to an exquisitely fine point. Such beings will be crucial when we finally put whitey against the wall.

Yay "humanities."

Meh (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46893847)

Let's apply STEM (well, Engineering only, I guess) techiques to make these Humanities guys irrelevant. If a problem is so poorly defined or understood that it's considered an art, isn't it time that we examined these problems scientifically, such that they become sciences, not art? Ultimately, absolutely everything is a science.

(pre-emptively: yes, I know science is an art! However, science has rules; whereas the so-called 'humanities' do not actually have any rules. The rules in science are defined by reality, not some dictator or committee)

Re:Meh (2)

kruach aum (1934852) | about 4 months ago | (#46893937)

If the rules of science were defined by reality, reality would have changed when Einstein proved Newton wrong. After all, reality defined Newton's laws first, but then defined them differently a couple hundred years later.

Additionally, some of the humanities do have rules. There are rules for what is considered to be a rational argument, and there are rules that determine what conclusions you can draw based on your data set. There are rules to history, there are rules to (analytic) philosophy (continental philosophy is another story), and there are rules to psychology. Your ignorance of them does not make them disappear, just like your ignorance of the way theory formation occurs in science doesn't make it not happen.

Re:Meh (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 4 months ago | (#46894675)

Additionally, some of the humanities do have rules. There are rules for what is considered to be a rational argument

Philosophy is the foundation of science and Psychology IS science. Exclude Philosophy and its subfields including logic and ethics as special exceptions.

What's left?

Re:Meh (2)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 4 months ago | (#46893997)

Let's apply STEM (well, Engineering only, I guess) techiques[sic] to make these Humanities guys irrelevant. If a problem is so poorly defined or understood that it's considered an art, isn't it time that we examined these problems scientifically, such that they become sciences, not art? Ultimately, absolutely everything is a science.

They should try that with economics. What could possibly go wrong?

Re:Meh (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 4 months ago | (#46894283)

Let's apply STEM (well, Engineering only, I guess) techiques[sic] to make these Humanities guys irrelevant. If a problem is so poorly defined or understood that it's considered an art, isn't it time that we examined these problems scientifically, such that they become sciences, not art? Ultimately, absolutely everything is a science.

They should try that with economics. What could possibly go wrong?

You mean, other than the fact that economists might actually start acting like humans?

Re:Meh (1)

Krishnoid (984597) | about 4 months ago | (#46894741)

They should try that with economics. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, for one, they could end up classifying it as a humanities subject [mit.edu] .

critical thinking (-1)

kruach aum (1934852) | about 4 months ago | (#46893887)

"science issues are always embedded in broader human realities, from deeply felt cultural traditions to building codes to political tensions. So our students also need an in-depth understanding of human complexities"

I wish they taught how the word "so" works in the humanities, then we wouldn't see such unwarranted conclusion-drawing. The fact that certain cultures have deeply felt traditions about the value of pi does not mean that a mathematician should be aware of them to be a competent mathematician, or even a competent human being. The fact that other cultures have deeply felt traditions concerning the transfer of blood does not mean that a biochemist needs to know about Jehovah's witnesses. The fact that there is a strong anti-science bent to political factions on both sides of the spectrum in the US is completely irrelevant to me thinking about the nature of consciousness.

Which of course does not disprove the wider point that there is value to the humanities. There is just more value to some of the humanities, and less value to others. I'm thinking specifically of the ones that make you not write incoherent ramblings and try to pass them off as persuasive arguments.

Re:critical thinking (4, Informative)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 4 months ago | (#46894049)

The fact that certain cultures have deeply felt traditions about the value of pi does not mean that a mathematician should be aware of them to be a competent mathematician, or even a competent human being.

It does if he's trying to explain why a speedometer is reading wrong.

The fact that other cultures have deeply felt traditions concerning the transfer of blood does not mean that a biochemist needs to know about Jehovah's witnesses.

It might to a doctor trying to convince parents to not let a child die.

I know the twitter generation have short attention spans so here's the tl;dr version: sometimes being right isn't enough, and how you say it matters as much as what you say.

Re:critical thinking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46894077)

I wish they taught how the word "so" works in the humanities, then we wouldn't see such unwarranted conclusion-drawing.

I find it interesting that you open your paragraph with a non-scientific (or at least, at odds with Linguistics, a science) claim that there is an objective use of the word "so" that should be taught (prescriptivism, a tenant of English studies, a part of humanities), and then go on to make an otherwise pro-science post. Gives some credence to your argument that there needs to be more science education, though!

Re:critical thinking (1)

kruach aum (1934852) | about 4 months ago | (#46894169)

You're drawing an unwarranted conclusion there. Just because I think there is a wrong way to use "so" does not mean I think there is an objectively correct way to use it. It's like the Sorites' paradox. Just because ten grains of rice is not a heap and a thousand grains of rice is, does not mean there is a definite number of grains of rice above which it's definitely a heap and below which it definitely isn't. Similarly, there is no objectively correct use of the word "so" (which a prescriptivist would argue), but there are objectively wrong ways. For example, "I used the so to pump gas," "When so lighting struck so barn, so fire department was called." or "So so so so so, so so so so so so so!" are all incorrect uses of the word "so" when it is intended to mean what it is generally intended to mean.

Re:critical thinking (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about 4 months ago | (#46894263)

For example, "I used the so to pump gas," "When so lighting struck so barn, so fire department was called." or "So so so so so, so so so so so so so!" are all incorrect uses of the word "so" when it is intended to mean what it is generally intended to mean.

If those first two utterances were actually produced in real speech, then there is a good chance that they cannot be called "objectively incorrect" ways of using the world, inasmuch as human speech naturally features semantic shift or coining of new lexemes in the idiolects of individuals. This has been well understood now for over a century (everyone would benefit from reading a little Saussure).

Re:critical thinking (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 4 months ago | (#46894461)

"So" sounds like the French word for bucket, so while you couldn't strictly pump gas with it you could, in the broader sense, use it to transfer fuel.

It's still wrong though, because in English it's not a noun at all which is the only type of word that can correctly appear in that place.

Re:critical thinking (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about 4 months ago | (#46894665)

It's still wrong though, because in English it's not a noun at all which is the only type of word that can correctly appear in that place.

Words can and regularly do shift from one lexical category to another. Pas was a noun in late Latin (meaning 'step'), it is now a negation marker in French and Occitan. Latin nescio quid was a verb-object phrase ('I don't know what") and then became a noun meaning "something". In the language I work with most intensively, Meadow Mari, a phrase "necessary-unnecessary" has come to mean "rubbish" (in the sense "You're talking rubbish"). It's after midnight here and I'm tired, but if you really wanted I could come back tomorrow and post probably another fifty examples off the top of my head. This is the sort of thing I deal with on a daily basis.

Human speech is malleable and continually undergoes various aspects of language change. It all starts in the speech of individuals using a lexeme in a new context where other speakers of the language can grasp at what he or she means, and in an utterance like "I used the so to pump gas" it's clear as day what "so" means.

Re:critical thinking (2)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 4 months ago | (#46894385)

a tenant of English studies

ITYM real-estate law.

Re:critical thinking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46894447)

The fact that certain cultures have deeply felt traditions about the value of pi does not mean that a mathematician should be aware of them to be a competent mathematician.

If a culture believes that their particular beliefs about pi compel them to attack you, or if your economy stands to gain by winning some of those individuals to your side, then not necessarily you but your society does benefit from having experts in that wrong belief around.

During the Cold War, for example, scholars interested in the indigenous beliefs of minority peoples in Russia found themselves in heavy demand (Indiana University in Bloomington was a magnet for them), because as part of their training they also had a knowledge of a people's culture useful to a US military who wanted to understand its adversary and gain a strategic edge. (Based on their deeply held pagan, Muslim or Buddhist identities, some minorities were at odds with the nominally atheist Soviet state or culturally Orthodox Russian people and the US felt that a wedge could be put between them if need be.)

After September 11, the same thing happened with experts in various aspects of Arab, Afghani or Pakistani society with its Muslim culture. Believe all you want in the error of Islam, but understanding it was key to understanding the very real phenomenon of the spread of extremism.

Re:critical thinking (1)

kruach aum (1934852) | about 4 months ago | (#46894639)

Yes, knowledge of culture is important, but the argument the dean was making is that specific knowledge of culture and beliefs is important to all MIT graduates, which I disagree with. Most knowledge can potentially become useful, but there is so much knowledge that no one person can ever obtain all of it. That's why, contrary to the oft-quoted Heinlein line, specialization is not just for insects, but rather a necessity of being human.

Although I agree... (0)

computational super (740265) | about 4 months ago | (#46893905)

Well, he's right, but unfortunately, the study of humanities in modern higher education has become a wasteland of anti-academic thinkers who viciously punish nonconformity and "ists" with an ax to grind and a debt to wring out of people whose ancestors they believe slighted their ancestors. He's describing what humanities ought to be rather than what they actually are.

He? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46894009)

Did you miss the part where this was written by a woman? Imparting the notion that women exist is apparently something else that humanities departments are good for.

Re:Although I agree... (2, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | about 4 months ago | (#46894013)

Well, he's right, but unfortunately, the study of humanities in modern higher education has become a wasteland of anti-academic thinkers who viciously punish nonconformity and "ists" with an ax to grind and a debt to wring out of people whose ancestors they believe slighted their ancestors.

It is sad when people interested in the sciences, who should be trained in recognizing a range of values at their hands, tar everyone with the same brush.

Though I later moved into linguistics, I began my academic career at a Classics department at a US university, and I never heard any of my lecturers pushing any particular political agenda or trying to evoke outrage. Even the one faculty member there deeply interested in the position of women in antiquity was producing interesting, accessible scholarship for people interested in daily life in earlier eras of history, and none of it was coloured by the agenda some attribute to Women's Studies.

As I have had contact with other universities, I've encountered many other such scholars. Sure, there are odd, agenda-driven departments out there, but let's have some perspective, please.

Re:Although I agree... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46894455)

I'll just leave this shit right here: The Harvard Bait and Switch [youtube.com]

See also FIRE: The Foundation for Individual Freedom in Academia. [thefire.org]

You're one of those nutters who think that Generalizations are bad because you have no Idea what outliers are and don't realize that generalizations don't limit individuals to being outliers; Nor do you care to do any fucking research at all before you flap your anecdotal gums, because you haven't a clue whether you're an outlier or in the middle of the trend -- It just doesn't fucking matter to you, it's all about YOUR experience. Oh how dare they drip a bit of paint on Your special Snowflake experience when talking about the vast majority of experience.

Fuck off idiot.

Re:Although I agree... (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about 4 months ago | (#46894625)

I am aware of FIRE's work and they 1) deal with only 400 institutions (the US has nearly 5,000, and furthermore the humanities are studied worldwide), 2) they are interested in speech by students, which may in some cases overlap with what faculty at humanities departments are lecturing in, but is by no means the same.

Then, in a rant on "outliers" versus "the middle of a trend", you link to a YouTube video dealing with one single university. Again, can we have some sense of perspective, please?

Re:Although I agree... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46894091)

Throughout my career I've been affiliated with a state school, an Ivy League school, a small private college, and a Catholic university, and I've never found these mythical small-minded academics. Do you speak from experience, or is this just what you imagine?

That's the whole point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46893935)

While universities churn out one-trick-pony STEM graduates with the political and social sensibility of a psychopathic eight year old, the real rulers of society can do what they want.

After all, anyone who is concerned about anything else than the latest Web browser or FPGA must be an idiot.

It's a perfect system, create STEM graduates with loads of debt and outsource the very jobs they would have gotten, but make sure they don't have the political and social savvy to fight it.

Keep it up nerds, you're paying for the rope, the gallows and the hangman and you deride anyone trying to take off your blinders.

"the ability to navigate ambiguity" (1)

unimacs (597299) | about 4 months ago | (#46893955)

This is a tough one for lots of developers.

Yes, studying humanities can be helpful (1)

MpVpRb (1423381) | about 4 months ago | (#46893963)

..as part of an engineering degree

No, a degree in English literature will not help you find a job

Re:Yes, studying humanities can be helpful (2)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | about 4 months ago | (#46894053)

That's the problem, the humanities that are taught are irrelevant and useless. Partly due to it being what those in charge want to teach, partly due to someone pursuing a STEM degree being very focused on their GPA for getting a job, not wanting to lose potentially tens of thousands of dollars in starting salary because a professor in a subjective exam gave a B rather than an A.

They take far too much time to pursue seriously, for every credit earned in humanities there is some very valuable STEM subject being ignored, and you can torpedo your job opportunities. That's why we're against humanities. I graduated with my undergrad degree with 143 credit hours, a huge chunk wasted in basic humanities. As a result I had to make hard choices about RF design, power and control theory that proveably have limited my career options to the digital world. All because I had to take silly courses in essay writing, english lit, world history, soviet history and economics (the latter I thought might involve numbers and be slightly scientific, HA!). 15 years later I'd still rather have junked all that, and taken more core EE and CS courses, it would have been far better value for my money.

Re:Yes, studying humanities can be helpful (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46894329)

>All because I had to take silly courses in essay writing, english lit, world history, soviet history and economics (the latter I thought might involve numbers and be slightly scientific, HA!).

You should've taken foreign language courses instead. They count towards the humanities requirements, at least in the engineering program I was in, and have proven to be infinitely useful.

Granted, they were a PITA but I didn't go to college to have a good time.

Re:Yes, studying humanities can be helpful (2)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | about 4 months ago | (#46894559)

I would have taken mandarin, but then in realizing why I was taking it, I would have changed majors entirely. In any event because they are useful, they cost money, and were not an option.

Given how incredibly specialized STEM fields are, with my direct experience being electrical and computer engineering, I would still have preferred no foreign language and more tech courses. Courses I still want to take, but that time has passed and college classes are far too expensive for anything but casual study.

I resent the humanities, they wasted my time and money. I want to help the future by seeing them relegated to where they belong: frou frou education for the super wealthy.

Re: Yes, studying humanities can be helpful (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46894927)

Your a fool who never learned how to read a book outside of academia. If you had paid attention in the humanities courses you might have learned how to do this.

Re:Yes, studying humanities can be helpful (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46894547)

If my British Literature course was replaced by a course that would hand out MCSEs, CCNAs, or other economically meaningful certificates, that is the route that should be taken.

However, one should have a wider perspective than just the latest tech stuff. For example, it is a mind boggler how few people know that one reason Russia dislikes the US is because the US invaded them (Murmansk and Archangelsk). Is this in the history books? Not really unless you take the time to go hunt stuff like this down to learn.

Another thing lost is that people need to be a part of the government. How many people actually not just vote, but actually come to jury duty when called, or actually throw their hat into the ring and run for election [1]?

I understand the importance of STEM, but there is a lot more than just that. Not knowing economics, and the decisions people make on that which benefit the Ponzi types. Not knowing government which means one less responsible person involved in keeping corruption at bay. Not knowing basic language skills, and being run around in circles by Europeans who do possess those skills. Not knowing basic literature, and being lost when references are tossed about at parties.

I'll even go out on a limb. Learning things like combat, both directly (verbal/physical) and indirectly (economic). In the US, this is something to be shunned, but in the real world, one has to fight/train, or else will always lose to someone that does. This is why China runs rings around the US, and why gun control is a major issue in the US while it isn't a concern whatsoever in any other country.

Of course, I'm going to don the tinfoil hat here: There should be skills one has that don't require electricity or civilization to use. Basic stuff like starting a fire, building a structure, basic first aid, sanitation, not getting eaten by the local fauna. Right now, one can get buy in an urban environment knowing no other skill other than cunning, or how to lie convincingly. Who knows if that may be the case when fuel and food costs are too expensive to support the population density we have now, especially coupled with the two hockey-stick charts of global warming and exponential population growth?

Heinlein is right; specialization is for insects.

[1]: I'm sure virtually anyone reading this would be a very good candidate for office. Even the Goatse person or the guy who posts the Golden Girls lyrics or the Jefferson lyrics with each topic.

Re:Yes, studying humanities can be helpful (2)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | about 4 months ago | (#46894761)

Since soviet studies was an elective I was stuck with, I do actually know that though I suspect the mutual dislike between Russia and the USA is far more complex than invasion, perhaps the reason for the invasion and the very polarized leadership each country has. If harboring a grudge over invasions was it, Americans would still be sore at Great Britain for ... quite a few early issues and headaches.

Regardless, the reason most of us spend money to go get an advanced degree is exclusively for the economic value. This isn't news, better spoken men than me have made comments over this through the century. None of us are going to school for a broader education, to become worldly or well rounded. In fact I quite specifically was happy to leave "well rounded" behind in high school and get on with what I really wanted to do. I didn't go to school not knowing what major I wanted or what I wanted to do with life, I had quite specific objectives and could convince my parents that their investment would have a return, and I wasn't wrong. That doesn't mean I don't resent the waste and unnecessary barriers created by humanities requirements. I'm fairly certain we overpaid 100% as a direct result.

I should also point out that quite a lot of people graduate with humanities degrees and we're still a shambles. I find it hard to believe they're that useful.

Re:Yes, studying humanities can be helpful (1)

SABME (524360) | about 4 months ago | (#46894333)

No, a degree in English literature will not help you find a job

I got my English major in 1988. I've been employed continuously since then, with the exception of a few months during the bursting of the tech bubble. I did not obtain a second degree (however, I have accumulated a fair amount of work experience over the last 26 years).

This is why (2, Funny)

xevioso (598654) | about 4 months ago | (#46893989)

Which is exactly why I got a history MA rather than a computer sciences degree, even though I do IT for a loving. I believe I'm a much more rounded human being with the information I gained during that time, and my interest in the humanities has never waned.

Sadly, I was earning 35K a year fresh out of grad school doing basic IT work in San Francisco in an office with MBAs also fresh out of grad school, who were easily earning 150K or more a year, plus bonuses.

I always joked with them that the only difference between them and me was that they happened to find money interesting.

Re:This is why (1)

gweihir (88907) | about 4 months ago | (#46894515)

There is rather strong indication by now that MBAs usually destroy more value than they create.

Re:This is why (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46894721)

If you're doing IT for a loving you're definitely in the wrong field.....

The problem with the Humanities (5, Interesting)

Nutria (679911) | about 4 months ago | (#46894001)

is that while Math majors know Shakespeare, English majors do not know Euclid.

(This is not originally my idea.)

Re:The problem with the Humanities (4, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | about 4 months ago | (#46894107)

This gap has been talked about since C.P. Snow's famous Two Cultures [wikipedia.org] lecture, but this describes only a general trend, and one more prevalent in general society than the academy;. It certainly does not mean that all humanities students are ignorant of the sciences, and when one works in an academic setting one regularly finds counterexamples. For example, a Classics scholar working with papyri or other manuscripts will probably gain a solid knowledge of optics, the chemistry of paper, etc. I have read publications on aspects of philology that employed statistics to a degree you would think the writer had read maths at uni instead. Historians often have to read detailed archeological dig reports, and that brings in other scientific phenomena they are more likely to be aware of than many peopel who gained a degree in other science fields.

Re:The problem with the Humanities (1)

gweihir (88907) | about 4 months ago | (#46894497)

Your mistake here is to assume that humanities majors are scientists or work as scientists. A tiny fraction are and do, but almost all do not. For STEM people it is necessary to remain part scientist throughout their whole career or they will not be good at what they do. Humanities graduates out of academia just need to give pretty speeches now and then.

Re:The problem with the Humanities (1)

hey! (33014) | about 4 months ago | (#46894445)

Actually, in the medieval roots of "liberal arts", mathematics in general and Euclid specifically were about half the curriculum.

The old standard curriculum was divided into two parts: the "trivium", or basic curriculum and the "quadrivium", or advanced curriculum:

Trivium:
(1) grammar
(2) logic (arguably mathematical)
(3) rhetoric

Quadrivium:
(4) arithmetic (Euclid)
(5) geometry (Euclid)
(6) music (theory, not performance, also somewhat mathematical)
(7) astronomy.

With a few tweaks, this could become a kick-ass modern basic education.
 

Re:The problem with the Humanities (1)

digsbo (1292334) | about 4 months ago | (#46894867)

The only tweak I'd make is to add dialectic (Socratic, not Hegelian or Marxist) to the rhetoric. But try selling a rigorous curriculum like that in today's Humanities departments. 85% of them won't allow it. It's too demanding.

Re:The problem with the Humanities (1, Funny)

gweihir (88907) | about 4 months ago | (#46894469)

Indeed. And humanities majors are a lot more prone to think they know it all than STEM folks are, because STEM folks get their own limitations shown to them all the time. That is where some of the most evil and destructive ideas come from.

I think he's right (5, Insightful)

ErichTheRed (39327) | about 4 months ago | (#46894017)

Disclaimer: I'm a STEM graduate (chemistry) and have been out of school for about 15 years.

The company I work for is essentially an IT services and consulting firm. Since IT and software development is not a profession like engineering or medicine, educational backgrounds differ wildly from person to person. One of the extremely rare traits that is great for our new hires to have is the critical thinking/troubleshooting/organization skills that STEM education provides, combined with a good grasp of communications skills that the humanities provide. While an English or fine arts major may not have the technical background to do some of the work we do, it's sure nice to find a STEM graduate who can write in complete sentences and document their work well.

One of the other things that a well-rounded education does for you is that it makes you a more interesting person. I've had the opportunity to work with lots of people over the years. Those who are 100% tech-focused and those who are 100% "fluff"-focused aren't very pleasant to deal with. Somewhere in the middle of these extremes (further towards the technical in my field) can make a very knowledgeable co-worker who is also plugged into daily life and can talk intelligently about other subjects. People who are all the way over to the techie side do very good technical work, but you certainly wouldn't put them in front of a customer and won't get good documentation of their excellent work.

I'm really not trying for self-promotion here, but I do feel that one of the reasons I haven't been unemployed for a very long time is because I'm flexible enough and have a good enough personality that employers don't feel like they're forced to keep me around just for my knowledge.

When I was in school, bashing my brain finishing my science education, I do remember looking at the humanities, psychology and communications majors and thinking they couldn't possibly amount to anything. Looking back, I'm glad a well-rounded education was forced on me in the form of required general education classes. Allowing someone to get through schooling without at least some attempt at exploring the other side (and this cuts both ways...) means they get the equivalent of a DeVry or ITT Technical Institute education.

Re:I think he's right (1, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | about 4 months ago | (#46894409)

It's all fine and dandy except for one tiny problem: "humanities" that are described there are all nonsense government propaganda aimed at creating a herd of collectivist borg. Who is teaching real economics and not Keynesian crap? Who of them is teaching people to understand what freedoms are? (ability to be free from government intrusion rather than some ideology based around everybody getting equal shitty outcome based on immoral ideology of redistribution of people's lives to others?)

Humanities COULD play a crucial role in creating an actual individual, instead they are today nothing but propaganda in the hands of the ruling elite, whose only purpose is to ensure that people are poor [youtube.com] , violent, uneducated [youtube.com] slaves.

Bacteria. (1)

inode_buddha (576844) | about 4 months ago | (#46894065)

I support bacteria. Its the only culture some people have.

I've heard this before (5, Insightful)

timholman (71886) | about 4 months ago | (#46894067)

I'm not quite sure where Dean Fitzgerald is coming from with this editorial. It's not as if every accredited ABET school doesn't already teach humanities as part of its engineering curriculum. In fact, the ABET 2000 accreditation process requires every engineering school to demonstrate that its undergraduate students are exposed to cultural, ethical, and economic concepts.

As someone who works at a university and teaches engineering courses, I've heard similar remarks from faculty members in the humanities throughout my career. To me this is just another example of the old "engineers aren't fully rounded human beings, because they haven't majored in the humanities" spiel.

"So our students also need an in-depth understanding of human complexities - the political, cultural, and economic realities that shape our existence - as well as fluency in the powerful forms of thinking and creativity cultivated by the humanities, arts, and social sciences."

I agree completely. But where are they going to get that understanding? From my experience, probably not in a humanities classroom.

In too many humanities courses, it's not about critical thinking, it's about figuring out the personal beliefs of the professor, because in many cases your grade depends on not offending those beliefs. I saw it when I was a student, and I still see it as a faculty member today. Too much of the grading in the humanities curriculum is entirely subjective, and in that sense I mean that it's the professor's opinion that counts the most ... and the students know it.

When I give an exam problem, the student's political and religious beliefs are completely irrelevant to their grades. The answer is either right or wrong, with partial credit assigned according to a standard rubric. My personal prejudices are meaningless. I wouldn't have it any other way, and neither would my colleagues.

A good engineering course teaches the essence of critical thinking: look at a problem, analyze it, write down a system of relevant equations, and solve it. What passes for critical thinking in many humanities courses is: "Repeat back my personal viewpoint verbatim, or else suffer the consequences with your grade."

So I think I'll take this latest editorial from Dean Fitzgerald with a very, very large shaker of salt. This strikes me as yet another in a very long series of not-so-subtle digs at STEM curriculums.

Re:I've heard this before (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46894529)

I am a faculty member at a Tier I research university. In the Art Department. However, my artwork bridges art and STEM disciplines. I build robots, create virtual reality worlds for chickens, etc. I also teach at this intersection.

I have never had the experience you are describing as a student, or as a faculty member and I certainly do not grade projects based on my personal beliefs. That is terribly unprofessional behavior. I recently had a student turn in a project based on an extreme right wing ideology which I do not agree with. It is not my job to judge the merit of their beliefs. It is my job to judge the quality of the work they have done and whether what they have created clearly communicates to their audience.

Most faculty I know employ grading rubrics to remove as much subjectivity from their evaluations as possible.

Also, I think the big issue is that the critical thinking which takes place in STEM tends to be narrow in focus, identify a very particular problem and solve it. The critical thinking in the Arts and Humanities tends to be much broader in focus. This is not to say one is more valuable than the other, but that when people with each skill set are combined on an interdisciplinary team the types of problems they can solve and the quality of the solution is often better than those developed independently.

Also, creative activities in the humanities and arts help us to make sense of the cultural shifts that occur in response to groundbreaking scientific discoveries and technological advancements. And also to ask the question, just because we can do something, should we?

Re:I've heard this before (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46894531)

This is a case of a member of the administration of an university trying to justify the existence of their department at the university. Outside of the English and technical communications courses, none of the "humanities" courses that I took in college have been of use in the 20+ years since I graduated. Yes, some of the courses were interesting. But I could have just checked out the books from a library, read them and saved a lot of time and expense that were wasted on those courses. The few examples that she gives in her editorial are going to be outweighed by the many other graduates who also feel that they were a waste of time or at best, a place where they could sit in the back of the room to do the homework for their real classes.

Re:I've heard this before (5, Insightful)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 4 months ago | (#46894577)

it's not about critical thinking, it's about figuring out the personal beliefs of the professor, because in many cases your grade depends on not offending those beliefs.

s/professor/boss/ and s/grade/continued employment/

Pretty good preparation for the world of work, no?

Re:I've heard this before (2)

real gumby (11516) | about 4 months ago | (#46894589)

I'm not quite sure where Dean Fitzgerald is coming from with this editorial. It's not as if every accredited ABET school doesn't already teach humanities as part of its engineering curriculum. ...This strikes me as yet another in a very long series of not-so-subtle digs at STEM curriculums.

I think you miss two important points of her essay.

The first is that she is at MIT. She makes the point that MIT has already "drunk the kool aid" of the importance of the humanities and that even in a highly "STEM" institution like that, Humanities are considered crucial. In fact MIT has only 6 "schools", and Humanities is one of them on par with Engineering and Science.

But MIT can get away with setting its own standards, and that leads to her other point: that there is a strong emerging fetishism with STEM, and with degrees that train (as opposed to educate) you with "skills" that soon become irrelevant. A desire for more science and engineering graduates does seem like a good thing given where the USA is right now, and we have evidence from the sputnik scare that it probably can have a good result. But if we fetishize it at the expense of the humanities, we won't get what we want (a stronger, more dynamic society that helps everyone).

She's not advocating that, say, Bowdoin adopt MIT's requirement that humanities majors take multivariate calculus, E&M, do lab work etc. just like everyone else. But she is saying that if even one the most prestigious "STEM" schools considers the liberal arts crucial, perhaps they are. And the fact that someone from MIT is writing it, rather than someone from a liberal arts-only school, makes it a more convincing argument.

In too many humanities courses, it's not about critical thinking, it's about figuring out the personal beliefs of the professor, because in many cases your grade depends on not offending those beliefs.

There are poorly taught classes in Engineering and especially CS as well. Personally, all the thermo I took at MIT was worthless and I had to learn it all over again in my 40s.

Yes, it's hard to identify crappy liberal arts teaching, especially when some of the interesting work does challenge orthodox thinking (since of course some of the crappiest also challenge orthodoxy). But really is that all that different from an engineering class that teaches only the stuff that's easiest to teach? It can be objectively valid, yet useless in the real world.

Note: I have a course 21 (humanities) degree from MIT.

Re:I've heard this before (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46894845)

Its clearly a failure of critical thinking that it is being equated to:

A good engineering course teaches the essence of critical thinking: look at a problem, analyze it, write down a system of relevant equations, and solve it.

Critical thinking isn't problem solving. I suppose that's just thinking, minus the "critical." Don't get me wrong, thinking itself is important and a lot of people can't "look at a problem, analyze it," etc.

Critical thinking, on the other hand, is really about asking about the approach to the problem itself. Why is such-and-such a "problem" to begin with, how has that arisen, in what ways are responses to this problem pre-figured by how such-and-such is described as a "problem." These approaches require larger context: cultural, social, political, and historical, if only to expose a student to the fact that things CAN BE different.

It is a world without critical thinking that would make everyone problem-solving computers. Alas, its already upon us.

Technology detox (2)

musth (901919) | about 4 months ago | (#46894071)

What other essential knowledge or skills should we add to this imaginary 'toolbox'?"

Whatever they are (and Heinlein's list is very good), the skills that we need to live as well-rounded humans cannot be perceived, checked off, or checked in like items on a requirements list or lines of code. A great problem with technology, and with most practitioners of it, is the instrumental view of the world it inculcates. As the Dean says, the humanities represent a very different way of thinking and understanding the world.

Probably the best thing that could happen to most technology majors is a several-years-long break from it.

preaching from the choir (4, Informative)

jafac (1449) | about 4 months ago | (#46894073)

MIT doesn't need to justify Humanities degrees.

The business world must. Maybe such degrees are okay for people who are already independently wealthy? But right now, our broken job market doesn't think they're worth much.

Re:preaching from the choir (1)

internerdj (1319281) | about 4 months ago | (#46894349)

I skimmed the article ( a little better than normal for /.), but it looked like he was arguing about the importance of humanities courses rather than humanities degrees. I'd agree with him that our current focus on STEM doesn't need to harm humanities courses. As I've grown in my field, I've found as great a wealth in my humanities classes as I have in my more advanced math courses.

Lifestyle (1, Insightful)

sinequonon (669533) | about 4 months ago | (#46894093)

STEM careers can allow you to live a decent lifestyle; humanities can turn that into a life worth living.

Re:Lifestyle (2)

dysmal (3361085) | about 4 months ago | (#46894239)

...and business degrees turn you into a person unworthy of living!

Re:Lifestyle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46894551)

STEM careers can allow you to live a decent lifestyle; humanities can turn that into a life worth living.

No degree has ever had an effect on my life or lifestyle. I am not defined by the shit I study. Do you think I'm a terrorist because I looked up how to make a pipe bomb? Eat a dick moron.

And here's why Humanities are attacked: (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46894129)

Social sciences is a misnomer because they aren't sciences, and some of them are not even arts [wikipedia.org] . Many of them are as harmful as phrenology [wikipedia.org] , specially when used in courts. For example, psychologists, influenced by feminists, erroneously postulated that rapers cannot reintegrate into society, that as soon as they leave prison they will rape again, and therefore they should be chemically castrated or be kept in prison for a long time without furlough. However, recent social studies using facts rather than assumptions actually found [slideshare.net] that violators rarely fall back into crime, with only 5% of them posing any risk (people identified with a profile of mental disorders), while the usual rate of reoffenses for other delinquents is 30% or higher. This study means that many men have been chemically castrated or faced longer prison times due to wrong assumptions taken as science facts. Other social pseudosciences like "Women Studies" or "Sociology" persist in repeating long-time ago discredited lies and marxist propaganda that doesn't resist scientific, economic, nor mathematical scrutiny. Sociology in particular is the only field of science whose students often refuse to acknowledge as science even though that automatically implies falling grades, and is well known for the "Sokal Scandal" [wikipedia.org] , an hoax in which they have fall more than once.

Lastly, "Climate Change" is known to fudge data, create models with no predictive power (aka. writing science fiction), rely on statistic correlations with infinitesimals so the results become white noise [wikipedia.org] , and have their proponents constantly fall on fallacies such as argumentum ad verecundiam [wikipedia.org] , argumentum ad populum [wikipedia.org] , and Circular logic [wikipedia.org] , behaving more as a religious zealots preaching doomsday and shunning the nonbelievers, rather than as serious sciencists.

Re:And here's why Humanities are attacked: (1)

gweihir (88907) | about 4 months ago | (#46894437)

And there you fall flat on your face at the end. Climatology is hard science and what it produces is reliable. What they tell the press is a different story and strongly influenced by the public not wanting to hear what they have found. Although the catastrophe is pretty much ensured at this time, it is something like 200 years away and most people are incapable of thinking in that time-frame.

Re:And here's why Humanities are attacked: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46894945)

Climatology is hard science and what it produces is reliable

What horseshit. They are fucking all over the place. Just like when one asshole said "I predicted 3 of the last big earthquakes! Listen to my system!" and the government official admitted "He did predict them, but he also predicted 300 big earthquakes that never happened."

When climate scientists claim an "accurate predictive model" to be "only" 30% off -- that shows you don't know what the fuck you're doing. Can you imagine if speedometers or thermometers or anything else was "only" 30% off? Fucking chaos!

humanities is all about (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46894133)

learning about the capacity of a person's inhumanity

Humanities are great, if you can handle it (1)

Andover Chick (1859494) | about 4 months ago | (#46894177)

The humanities are a great way for a STEM student to round him/herself. Especially since Russia/India/China graduate so many vanilla STEM students that being able to communicate effectively and think critically are a great way stand-out. But the humanities can be difficult, time consuming, and expensive.

QOTD (1)

firewrought (36952) | about 4 months ago | (#46894235)

"Culture's worth huge, huge risks. Without culture we're all totalitarian beasts." -- Norman Mailer

Little known MIT fact (1)

paiute (550198) | about 4 months ago | (#46894265)

I believe the system is still the same as when I was there (before the electron had been discovered). If you majored in a science or engineering, you had to take 8 classes in a declared humanities concentration. That would qualify as a minor at other schools.

Oh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46894361)

the humanity...

Most people do not use that toolbox... (1)

gweihir (88907) | about 4 months ago | (#46894395)

And you want to put more into it? That sounds like it will only make things worse.

Technology & Humanity (4, Insightful)

LionKimbro (200000) | about 4 months ago | (#46894473)

Snippet of a recent conversation:

Friend: "...and people are even 3D printing houses!"

Me: (skeptical look)

Friend: "It'll work!"

Me: "I have no doubts that the technology will function just fine. But in this case, it's not the technology that's the problem. We could have cheap housing all over the place, presently, and solve a million housing problems. But the problem isn't the technology."

Friend: "Well what else would it be?"

I explained about Seattle City's law that you can only have 8 people living in a housing unit, regardless of the size, and that this is on the liberal end of things, as far as most cities go.

I explained about zoning, and restriction, and neighbors.

I explained that if you could snap your fingers and make floating or underground housing, for absolutely free, either above or below the city of Seattle, people would rage with anger and complain of crime, undesirables, unsightlys, and plummeting housing values.

The middle class stores most of its wealth in its houses, and so everybody has a gigantic freak-out if anything happens to cause housing prices to go down. We hold as a society the notion that a house is an investment vehicle, and will do anything in our collective power to make sure that housing prices go up, up, up, faster than the rate of inflation. We'll talk about "quality" and "community" and "clean neighborhoods," whatever it takes, to make sure that the next generation spends more on our houses than the generation that came before.

What use is a 3-D printer that can print houses with ease?

What use are robots that can programmatically generate great housing in a for-loop?

I mean, besides becoming "the enemy of all humankind" and having all federal, state, and local laws applied against you with every bit of scrutiny that can be mustered?

You "study the humanities" not so that you learn some kind of scientific truth about the human being. You study the humanities so that you aren't naive, and waste the investment everybody's put into you.

Re:Technology & Humanity (1)

Krishnoid (984597) | about 4 months ago | (#46894765)

Friend: "...and people are even 3D printing houses!"

Me: Let me know when they start 3D printing Location, Location, and Location.

Speak another language (3, Interesting)

frisket (149522) | about 4 months ago | (#46894477)

What other essential knowledge or skills should we add to this imaginary 'toolbox'?

One that sets many apart: learn to communicate in another language.

Just ask Aaron Swartz (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46894593)

>> What other essential knowledge or skills should we add to this imaginary 'toolbox'?"

Lets start "critical thinking" about copy wrongs, non proportional penalties and institutional policy being a tool of interest groups.
Less talk and more action... MIT as no moral stance until the damage they helped happen gets repaired, Can't be? Then those
involved should be excluded from the institution. Talk is cheap

single biggest threat to STEM education (3, Insightful)

xeno (2667) | about 4 months ago | (#46894601)

Yes. THIS.

The single biggest thing that renders useless an otherwise-great STEM education is the lack of ability to write well.

Legion are the devs who string together many words, but forget to have a verb or period at the end. Innumerable are the IT wonks who can't scrape together a coherent and concise summary of 1000-page compliance reports. I swear, the collective plural noun for some of the security analysts at work is "a shimmer of tin foil hats" or "a fuckery of subjectivism" ...and they don't even understand the nature of the criticism.

Can I *PLEASE* have a critical thinker and good writer in the house???? Anyone??

Science does no good if you cannot express a coherent hypothesis, imagine a threshold, or string together a sequence of actual actions for testing. In medicine this costs lives.
Technology is an interchange, it does no good if you cannot listen to a problem, and express understanding back. At this moment in software, we're awash in UX implementations that aren't traceable to a functional problem.
Engineering compounds the problem later without functional expression and holistic and temporal views. Ask a Boeing maintenance tech about the plethora of could-have-been-shared 1-off components in 20-40 year old jets.
Math does no good if you cannot draw a picture. Ask the Morton Thiokol guys about their reports on the o-rings on the space shuttle.

Among other "humanities" like history and writing/composition, Tufte [edwardtufte.com] ought to be mandatory for high-school seniors in a STEM program.

Education as a state function (1)

rdelsambuco (552369) | about 4 months ago | (#46894647)

I would think that critical thinking is exactly what the state wants to limit in it's citizens. And by "state," I mean the nexus of the most powerful and monied bureaucratic and commercial interests. For example, does a company like Apple benefit most from questioning consumers, or from credulous consumers?

STEM vs. Humanities (1)

Stormy Dragon (800799) | about 4 months ago | (#46894689)

From climate change to poverty to disease, the challenges of our age are unwaveringly human in nature and scale, and engineering and science issues are always embedded in broader human realities, from deeply felt cultural traditions to building codes to political tensions.

If I have a disease, I want my doctor to heal me; not ponder my deeply felt cultural traditions.

But then they might think for themselves. (1)

Animats (122034) | about 4 months ago | (#46894707)

I'd suggest knowing more history rather than more literature.

Russia's advance into Ukraine is much like Germany moving into Poland in 1939. This is a very big deal. Yet it isn't even on the front page of CNN today. It's a one-line entry on Fox. On Reuters, it's the top story.

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